Jia Zhang-ke’s second feature (2000) may well be his best work to date and one of the greatest of all Chinese films. Its subject is the great theme of Chinese cinema, the discovery of history, which links such otherwise disparate masterpieces as The Blue Kite, Blush, Actress, The Puppet Master, and A Brighter Summer Day. The story charts the course of the Cultural Revolution’s aftermath for about a decade, noting shifts in values and lifestyles, culture and economy, as China moves inexorably from Maoism to capitalism, as witnessed by five actors in a provincial traveling theater troupe. Many episodes unfold in single long takes, with offscreen sound playing an important role, and the beautifully choreographed mise en scene recalls the fluid Hungarian pageants of Miklos Jancso in the 60s and 70s. Originally 192 minutes long, the film was recut by Jia to its current 155 minutes and improved in the process. In Mandarin with subtitles. (JR)


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